13 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them—since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
I’m a terrible test taker. Growing up I would study for a class topic and when the exam was handed out, the timer started, I drew a blank. Gosh, all the answers looked right but there was always one that was correct. Consequently, I didn’t do very well.
Paul challenges the Corinthian Believers as he finished his thoughts to this letter. It’s a pretty bold challenge for them to consider: Am I really a Believer? He has laid all the groundwork through this Epistle that called them out on behavior, ideas, allegiance, and problems. No stone left unturned, they are called to now take the thoughts presented and weigh in with where they were spiritually.
We often will look toward the fruit in other people’s lives and measure, come to a conclusion as to where they stand spiritually. Whether right or wrong, we do this. Paul says, “Step back and look at yourself. Examine where you stand in light of all this.” More to the point, many assume or presume they are Followers of Jesus when in actuality they are not. This is what he’s driving at. In particular, in this day and age when the title or pronouncement “I’m a Christian” is thrown around here and there among people – this self-examination is still relevant today.
The obvious question is what does such an examination look like? First in light of all Paul’s topics throughout this book, there is a checklist of things to consider. One could go point by point through these. But even that can wade into legalism on some levels and give a false answer. It is more of a soul search with Jesus holding up the magnifying glass in our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors seeing if we have a continual growing awareness of Jesus in our lives. Are we experiencing His presence? If we had to look at the fruit of our lives, were able to step back and see where that is growing – what would we discover?
In the end, such examination comes under the lead of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to reveal to us the areas of our lives where we’re grieving Him. It’s opening ourselves up through this self-study for Him to direct our focus to the things of where improvement and change are required. To pass the test though, change must follow.
This is no easy test. And really study for such an exam is not going to help. It’s looking at where we are now in regards to the journey we have walked and allowing Him to open our eyes and stir a longing of wholeness found through repentance and determination to change.
Pass or Fail – what is the discovery?
2 Corinthians 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When Paul first visited Corinth and established the church, he stayed a year and six months. Most scholars believe his second visit was between the two letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Paul writes that he directly challenged the sin of these people. Now, as he prepares to come for the third time, he states that he will not be lenient with those who are continuing in their same sin.
I gave a warning when I was present the second time, and now I give a warning while I am absent to those who sinned before and to all the rest: If I come again, I will not be lenient, 3 since you seek proof of Christ speaking in me. He is not weak toward you, but powerful among you.2 Corinthians 13:2-3 HCSB
Paul is walking a delicate balance. Those in positions of authority are under the accountability of God to season their speech with love. We can look back at Paul’s letters and see evidence of this. However, in many ways, he showed grace the second time he came by only giving a warning. These people who continued in their rebellion were not only causing others to stumble, but they were showing hatred toward Paul and defaming the Name of Christ.
When Jesus came the first time, he came in humility. At His Second Coming, “they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Paul writes here that Jesus was “crucified in weakness, but He lives by God’s power.” In the same way, Paul came to the Corinthians in weakness and humility the last time he was there. They questioned Paul’s power, seeking proof of Christ speaking in him. Now Paul instructs them he is coming to clean house by the power of God. His warning comes with a test.
“We are often very ready to examine and test others. But first, and always first, we must examine and test ourselves. “That was the trouble at Corinth. They criticized Paul and failed to examine themselves.””Alan Redpath
Another aspect to consider on this point is allowing others to examine us. Paul was examining the Corinthians and didn’t like what he saw. Their reaction was familiar. They lashed out against Paul and tried to destroy his credibility. In some ways, it was a smear campaign in order to protect their sin. This is where the Holy Spirit is crucial. Any believer could have looked at Paul’s life and realized he was an authentic follower of Jesus. When disagreements arise like this, it is imperative to examine the fruit. Paul could have written off these people in Corinth but he didn’t. He decided to graciously persevere with them and work through their issues, however, he also was ready to hold their feet to the fire!